Marsupilami sits on the fringe of my memory. I think he was in a Sega Mega Drive game, and there may have been a cartoon at some point. Doing some research, there’s a good reason why Marsupilami hasn’t crossed our paths too often: he’s best known as a Franco-Belgian comic book character, sitting alongside Lucky Luke as someone who is part of the French and Belgian consciousness. And like Lucky Luke, he only makes his way to our shores when they’re part of something that’s worth exporting.
Marsupilami: Hoobadventure is definitely worth exporting. Picked up by publisher Microids, it’s a slick, gorgeous platformer that we’d recommend in a heartbeat. If you’re considering Marsupilami: Hoobadventure for your kids, we’d urge you to pick it up: it’s Rayman Legends with a little more forgiveness in the difficulty, and not much compromise in the quality. If you’re an adult, it’s got enough about it that you’ll enjoy it too. We were as surprised as you are.
We should be quick to mention that this doesn’t do much that’s new. It’s about two-thirds Rayman and one-third Donkey Kong Country. In places, the love for the Ubisoft platformer is so palpable that it goes beyond homage. But most younger players won’t care for a bit of copycatting, and the package here is so well constructed that you stop caring.
The first thing you’ll note is the art. This is top-tier stuff. Everything is bursting with primary colours. The critters around the levels all come in familiar shapes – bats, parrots, mice and lizards – but they have a Dreamworks-like care to their design, making them all viable characters of their own platforming game. The collectibles, mostly fruit, draw your eye and make you want to scrump them. But Marsupilami is the best of the bunch, a character whose body mass is about ninety-percent tail, but curls it around himself and uses it with grace.
You’re marching through levels that are superbly designed. Developers Ocellus Studio have a knack for designing obstacles that act as a double-edged sword. They will offer a threat, but they will also be a means of hiding (or reaching) secrets in the level. Thwomp-like creatures get introduced around the midway point, but they have flat tops, so when they crash down to attack you, you can pivot and jump on top to reach higher platforms. It’s a clever approach to level design, and it allows Marsupilami: Hoobadventure to be stacked with secrets.
The secrets take Marsupilami: Hoobadventure to another level. They effectively let the player determine their own difficulty, which is great for the adults who want to grab the pad from their kids. Five feathers can be found on each level, and they’re completely optional. But reaching them is a feat, a step up from just traversing the level, so you can make the choice of grabbing them or not. The game’s also bursting with secret areas, and there are ‘Dojo’ gates in a few of them. These Dojos are challenge rooms, effectively, and you need to jump through a series of hoops in a time limit. They’re optional, again, but only a couple had us failing.
Marsupilami: Hoobadventure can’t find a fantastic answer for why you might want to collect everything, though. There’s lots of fruit around the level, for example, and their use is – Mario-like – converting into an extra life once you’ve collected one-hundred. But you get tons of them, so your lives reach ridiculous totals. We had 99 by the end of the game, mostly thanks to the low challenge bar, which meant that fruit had no value to us. We stopped bothering to collect them. To a degree, the same goes for the other collectibles: feathers are needed to open three levels, but you’ll have more than you need when you reach them.
Still, playing through a level brings its own enjoyment. There might only be one or two moments that have you nodding with appreciation (Marsupilami: Hoobadventure occasionally sets up Rube-Goldberg machines that you pinball through, which cracks a smile), but the levels are uniformly of a pretty high standard. No level feels like another, they each come with their own idea to explore, and they’re dense with secret stuff. You could have told us this was a Rayman game aimed at younger players, swapping out the main character, and we would have believed you.
The negatives won’t be negatives to everyone. At £33.49, Marsupilami: Hoobadventure is close to a full-priced title, but it’s not heaving with content. There are only twenty full levels here and three boss levels, which isn’t massively substantial. Marsupilami: Hoobadventure is actually a bit cheeky and puts Dojo levels on the game map, yet they’re copies of the Dojo secret areas in the levels themselves. You’ll be repeating them, wondering why they bothered. We got through Marsupilami: Hoobadventure in four hours, without quite achieving 100%, and we’d be the first to admit that’s low.
We’re not exactly overrun by high-quality platformers that are aimed squarely at the younger generation, though. So, while that £33.49 might be steep for the amount of content you get, you’re getting a rare gem of a game. It’s colourful, imaginative and will make your children feel like platforming superstars. Marsupilami: Hoobadventure, completely out of nowhere, is the best Xbox kids game of the year.
You can buy Marsupilami: Hoobadventure from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S